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Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Nikola Utility Mini Dress (Cost: $4!)

Why Do Some Fabrics Dye Better than Others?
Thrift Store Style: My Casual Secondhand Summer

By now you guys know I’m kind of obsessed with Anthropologie. I love visiting their stores and browsing their gorgeous wares online.

This love exists despite my extreme cheapskatedness. I’ve never purchased an item of clothing from them. Instead, I’ve made a few Anthropologie-Inspired DIY copycats, like this clay top, and this maxi dress.

My Inspiration: The Nikola Utility Mini Dress

Anthropologie Nikola Utility Minidress
That’ll be $148.

I love this dress. It’s called the Nikola Utility Mini Dress and it’s fabulous. I love the color, the fit, the pockets(!!!), and those ruched sleeves that give it an unexpected touch of femininity.

My Before Piece: A Boring Dress from my Closet

Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Nikola Utility Mini Dress (Cost: $4!) Before

I thrifted this dress for $1, figuring it would be good for work (aren’t boring work clothes just the worst????)

It’s beige. It’s bland. And I’ve never actually worn it to work or anywhere else.

The Refashion

Getting my boring blah blah beige dress up to Anthropologie standards was going to take a few steps.

  1. I needed to dye it to get as close to that sunny yellow hue as possible.
  2. I needed to add two more pockets.
  3. I needed to shorten & ruche the sleeves.
  4. I needed to convert that tie belt into a belt with a button closure.
  5. I needed to shorten the hem (just a tad).

Dyeing the Dress

I looked through my dye stash and found half a bottle of this:

bottle of rit yellow dye
Rit doesn’t sponsor me, and I feel this is foolish on their part.

I set up a dye bath with hot water, salt, the dye, and my dress.

Unfortunately, the dye wasn’t really taking, even though the fabric content is 97% Cotton/3% Spandex.

dye bath with dress and yellow dye
See, it isn’t working. That’s because you’re GARBAGE, Rit. GARBAGE.

So, I went back to my stash and grabbed a bottle of this:

bottle of orange dye
I can’t quit you, Rit.

I only added a splash of the orange dye to the bath as I was worried about the yellow not picking up at all.

I stirred my dress in the dye periodically for 40 minutes, then rinsed it in my washing machine and dried it.

Chopping Time!

Now that my dress was dyed to a yellow-orangish hue, it was time to make a few chops.

dress with sleeves and bottom hem cut off
So many chops!

The sleeves needed to be shortened, and I needed to remove that swoop from the bottom hem if I wanted to be true to my inspiration piece.

Those lower bits of the sleeves are going to come into play later, as well as those hidden straps that were originally for holding the sleeves up if they were rolled.

How to Sew Patch Pockets

I knew I wanted my patch pockets to be the same size and shape as the existing top pockets, so I traced one using pattern paper (you could use tissue or parchment paper too).

tracing pocket

Then, I measured the seam allowance for the existing pockets.

measuring seam allowance on pocket
You can feel where the fabric stops on the inside.

I added those measurements to my pocket outline.

pocket pattern with added seam allowances
Making sense so far, right?

You can see I left that bottom angle flat for my pocket pattern. That’s going to help me get a nice sharp corner. You’ll see!

I pinned my pattern to one of the cut off sleeves, and cut out my two pockets!

cutting out pockets

Here they are!

Cut out pockets
I marked the inside fabric with tailor’s chalk.

Now, Let’s make some pockets!

I laid each pocket with the right side facing down, and got to ironing.

First, I folded the top section over once (half of its allotted seam allowance), and pressed it down.

Ironing down top of pocket
Just take it one step at a time.

Then, I pressed the other seams inside as well, adhering to my pre-measured seam allowances, and finishing them off by folding that top part over again.

pocket with seams pressed in
A most pressing matter.

I ran the top part of each pocket through my machine.

stitching top of pocket
Just a lil straight stitch.

Here’s what it looked like on the other side when I was done!

pocket with top stitched
Future Pocket!

I tried my dress on, and pinned where I wanted the pockets to be. Then, I pinned them down, making sure they were placed at the same place (horizontally) as the top pockets.

dress with bottom pockets pinned on

Time to stitch them into place!

stitching down pocket
Sew slllllowly and carrrrrrefully here, folks.

I decided to forgo the top flaps for these pockets as I only had two extra buttons from the sleeves, and one of those would be needed to make my belt happen.

The Sleeves

The technique I used to gather the sleeves is pretty much the same as the one I used for my recent tiered dress refashion.

I just set my stitch length to 5 and my tension to 6.

Make sure to keep long thread tails at the beginning and end, AND don’t backstitch. This will let you adjust the gathers later.

Here’s the view from the back of my machine.

Adding gathers to sleeves
The machine creates the gathers for you!

And here’s what those sleeves looked like when I was done.

gathered sleeve
Pretty, innit?

Of course, I couldn’t leave those sleeves with raw edges on the ends now could I?

I grabbed the very ends of the sleeves that I cut off in the beginning, folded the insides down and pressed them, like this:

Pressing sleeve cap
Lots of ironing in this refashion, huh?

Then, I turned them right side out, and pinned them to the gathered part, adjusting the gathers to make sure they fit.

sleeve cap pinned to sleeve
It’s all coming together!

Finally, I stitched the sleeve caps to the sleeves!

sewing sleeve cap to sleeve
This was an incredibly finicky process.

Now for that belt…

The original belt for my dress was a tie belt, but I needed to imitate the snap closure on the Anthropologie version as well as I could.

I thought I’d need to add a buttonhole to one end of the belt, but discovered the sleeve garter thingies were the same width as the belt!

I pinned the end of the sleeve garter to the belt, and stitched it down!

Pinning end of sleeve garter to belt
Why work hard when you can work smart?

I removed a button from one of the cut-off sleeves….

using seam ripper to remove button
Come here!

…and hand-stitched it to the other end of my belt!

I measured my waist and took the belt in from the back.

taking belt in from the back
Just a little whir!

Now for a quick hem!

This dress was already on the short side, so I folded the pinked edge of my hem under…

pinning bottom hem
Almost done!

…and stitched it down!

sewing down hem
The final whirrrr!

After a final (!) ironing, I was done!

Here’s my Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Copycat!

Refashionista Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Nikola Utility Mini Dress After Close up
I love my new white sunnies!
Refashionista Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Nikola Utility Mini Dress After
Not bad, eh?

I styled my new dress with a pair of vintage grey Bass pumps and white sunglasses.

Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Nikola Utility Mini Dress After Close up
It. Has. Pocketsssss!

The color is a good bit off, and I would have preferred to have added top flaps to the bottom pockets. But overall, I think I came pretty close!

refashionista in anthro knockoff closeup
Speaking of close.

What do you think?

refashionista Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Nikola Utility Mini Dress (Cost: $4!)

Anthropologie Nikola Utility Mini Dress: $148
Thrifted Dress: $1
Dye: $3
Savings: $144

refashionista Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Nikola Utility Mini Dress (Cost: $4!)


Why Do Some Fabrics Dye Better than Others?
Thrift Store Style: My Casual Secondhand Summer

66 thoughts on “Anthropologie-Inspired DIY Nikola Utility Mini Dress (Cost: $4!)”

  1. Oh my goodness Jillian! This is one of my favorite refashions that you have ever done. Plus, you were able to show us how to do so many different things. I mean gave us step by instructions on how to refash our own garments too. And need we say that you ROCKED that dress girlfriend!!! Way to go!

  2. Wow! That was pretty intense. I love the color, and I love how you were able to transform your dress into a masterpiece! Great job!

  3. Absolutely amazing! Your color is definitely better, and now I know what to do with those straps that hold the sleeves up. This is sophisticated, casual, and sheer genius. Thank you so much for all the important details. Brilliant.

  4. What you need to do is get a line up of your own colors & submit that to Rit. It could be the exclusive Refashionista line for Rit. Go for it!

  5. a nice redo… the best was all the info you gave us in the remaking of this piece… how to do the sleeves, the belt, etc. A great demo, for sure! Thank you so much!

  6. Wow! That’s an impressive copycat–maybe the best one you’ve done! I hope the new version of the formerly blah dress has a fun life.

    Question. Do you wear your refashions often? You seem to have *a lot* of clothes, so I often wonder if you wear them more than once or twice.

  7. The color out works great when you wash something red in your white load! Takes that pink right out! Not that I’ve done that. 🙂 Love your posts…I learned to sew when I was 5 from my grandma and have been sewing fun clothes and home stuff for 55 years. I love watching you create and have learned some great tricks from you. Kelp up with you fabulous self!!

  8. Great refashion! thankfully Rit didn’t let you down in the end! Would the dip and dye sweater you did in april a good combination for those chilly evenings;)? Or would that be too much?

  9. Seeing a post from you in my inbox always makes me happy. I love seeing your creativity, you really are so clever, inspiratonal and funny. This dress turned out fab. Nice to see you added to the sunnies collection too 🙂

    Happy weekend and sunny greetings across the miles.

  10. I loved seeing that more detailed refashioning doesn’t need to mean so complex that it’s scary. Well doe, and very attractive!

  11. I wonder if you could have used a color-out product to get rid of the color of the dress to go from that beige to almost white. Then use the dye to make it more yellow. I’m a sewist and not so much into dying things but since you’re the pro, I wonder if it would have worked? As for mimicking the dress — it’s spot on!

  12. This is seriously AMAZING!!! I LOVE IT. The color turned out greag after all. I’ve been obsessed with dying things thanks to you (in a good way).

  13. Thank you for showing all of the steps to achieve the prefect remake. Seeing how it is done is most of the fun of your posts. Love it.

  14. This is fantastic! I actually like your color better, and you really nailed the essence of the Anthropology piece. As always, great job!!!

  15. Love, love, love this. You inspire me to look at my thrifted treasures with hope. Happy Independence Day!

  16. Lovely! Rit should definitely sponsor you. Your posts inspired me to spend at least $100 in dye recently. Maybe we should start a petition 🙂

  17. Ok, Jillian, that was impressive! If you come across a matching button, or a pair that are very close you still have the other sleeve to make top flaps for the bottom pockets.

  18. Another incredible refashion! You are an inspiration and a hoot! I have been a subscriber for years and I find your creations an inspiration and your narrative such fun. I feel like you are my girlfriend. I also love how you share your friends and hubby and hometown! You are such a gem! Thank you for all of the smiles you have given me all these years! Happy Independence Day!

  19. A great refashion and you look wonderful in it! As for the dye issue I have had good results using a dye remover(rit makes one). I once removed the color from a pair of jeans and a jean jacket that were different colors and dyed them together a light blue. They turned out perfect. I only do this on special or more costly pieces and the dye turns out very saturated and intense. For me this has been a good way to extend a few favorite pieces.
    Your refashions are always an inspiration and it always brightens my day to see you in the inbox!
    Stay safe and well, T from Canada

  20. I love it!
    And yeah boring work clothes are the worst! I have a few that I do wear and just feel meh in. I should totally clear them out!

  21. This is the best refashion I’ve ever seen you do. It is so polished and pretty. Super, super job. And you always make me giggle with your commentary. Bless you!!

  22. Love this makeover, the colour really pops. I am going to save this for future inspiration. Love the fact that you saved $144 too. A girl after my own heart. Well done.

  23. This is awesome!! You could’ve taken the button from under the belt (and the one from the other sleeve) to do your pocket flaps though couldn’t you? If the missing button made it happy you could use a snap or a bit of Velcro or a close but no match spare button from something else.

  24. Great transformation! The dress looks comfy and polished at the same time. And I’m with you about the love for pockets!

  25. I love how specific you were in the “how to” stuff today! This is definitely a post I’ll save for the sleeve gathering bit and the pocket DIY!! Thanks so much!

    And you’re right- this is perfect (if only the flaps on those pockets). It really turned out though! Great job! Still love the blog (as Snape would say, “Always.”)


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